Inspiring stories from Russia’s Paralympic champions
The Paralympic Games in Sochi 2014 are expected to result in many achievements. The 1,650 Paralympic athletes and team members from over 45 countries have yet to arrive in Sochi’s venues, but organizers have already started to see several world records.
The first records are on a national scale: The Russian delegation will consist of 162 people, the biggest team Russia has ever sent to the Paralympics.
This was followed by a world record: for nine days of competition in Sochi, 72 medal sets in five sports will be played for the first time in the history of the Paralympic Games.
Those sports will include: cross-country skiing, biathlon, ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling and skiing. The Games also includes new disciplines - short track race in biathlon (six sets of medals) and Paralympic snowboard-cross (two sets of medals).
At the previous Games in Vancouver 2010 the Russian team won 38 awards - 12 gold, 16 silver and 10 bronze medals, all this is in two favorite sports: cross-country skiing and biathlon. In the gold medals, Russians lost only to Germans (13-5-6). Then the team rightfully earned the title of one of the strongest in the world.
The following are a collection of stories from the Russian Paralympic champions.
Irek Zaripov became the most titled Russian athlete at the Paralympics in Vancouver, winng four gold and one silver medal in skiing and biathlon. In Sochi, the 30-year-old athlete will defend his titles before retiring from sports.
"I hope my farewell with the sport will be positive, then I plan to start a political career,” said the leader of the Russian Paralympic Team and a deputy of the State Assembly of Bashkortostan. “But now, of course, all thoughts are towards the performance at the home Paralympics."
Zaripov is now confident, successful and strong. But there was a moment when he could not find himself or his place in life. When he was 17 Zaripov lost his legs in an accident. After many operations and hospital stays, there were two years of despair and loneliness.
Zaripov remembers that he lived as a vegetable: only eating, drinking and sleeping. During the time he was lying in bed, he gained almost 100 kilograms, though now he weighs about 65 kilograms.
His parents pulled him out from his despair; they forced their son to pull himself together. Zaripov started doing sports: athletics, swimming, skiing, and drove kilometers on a wheelchair with biathletes on roller skis. Then he was noticed by a coach.
"When I started doing sports, I realized that it is mine,” Zaripov said. “Life is not dull, I had a goal - to achieve the maximum heights in sports."
He has achieved it, and not just in sports. "I am absolutely happy,” Zaripov said. “I have my parents, wife, children, favorite job. What more do I want? "
The secret of success of Irek Zaripov: "For daily workouts you need insistence. You should not forget about your goals. And on the road, when you are fighting with your rivals, showing them your character, you can turn on your ambitions."
Anna Milenina (Burmistrova) had a pinched nerve at birth, which caused a partial paralysis of the arm. In such an injury doctors categorically forbade her to do sports.
Anna Milenina: "You have
to force and overcome yourself, and be stubborn and run until the end." Source: ITAR-TASS
But Milenina was from an athletic family: her mother is a Master of Sports in cross-country skiing, and her father is also a skier. Her parents even met on the track. Her aunt is a trainer, and she took the responsibility of training Milenina, despite the verdict of doctors.
Milenina began to do sports at 6 years old. She joined the national team when she was 14 and immediately began to perform at the international level. On her first Paralympics in Turin, she was 19. She became a champion straightway - in ski racing at 10 kilometers, and a triple silver medalist in cross-country skiing and biathlon.
In Vancouver, Milenina two gold, a silver and a bronze medal. Back home another surprise was waiting for her: Milenina’s boyfriend proposed her. He is a Paralympic athlete as well and earned a bronze medalist in volleyball at the Beijing Olympics. A year after the wedding, the couple had a son.
"Life is procreation. So I want to be not only a good athlete, but also a good mother and wife. I think children should always be in the foreground."
So how did she do it? "Training, training and once againg training. You have to force and overcome yourself, and be stubborn and run until the end."